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Release on behalf of Stephen Fraser. S.C.
Reference is made to the news article published in the Stabroek News Saturday edition of the 18th March 2023 captioned “Judge finds fraud in the sale of boating services property removes executrix, flays lawyer.” and to the actual judgment of Mr. Justice Kissoon.
One of the most elementary principles of law and perhaps the foundation of several legal systems is the concept of natural justice and the right of an accused person to be heard before the pronouncement of judgment or the findings of fact made by any court of law.
In the case of Darshanie Harrilall and others V Deborah De Santos and others, Senior Counsel Stephen Fraser was neither a party to the action nor was he afforded any opportunity to be heard on any of the issues which the Honourable Justice Kissoon proceeded to make adverse findings on.
At no stage during the proceedings was any allegation put to Mr. Fraser, S.C. No testimony was led by any witness of any involvement by Mr. Fraser S.C. in any aspect of the dispute which engaged the attention of the Honourable Mr. Justice Kissoon.
It would appear that these matters escaped the deliberations of the trial judge who not only proceeded to make adverse findings inclusive of hostile comments on the conduct of the attorney but more disturbingly pronounced upon the conduct of Senior Counsel who was never afforded any opportunity to be heard on any allegations which were never put to him during the trial..
This is a most unusual and unprecedented development in the jurisprudence of Guyana.
The unfortunate judgment of the court was appealed shortly after it was delivered, and the Appellants have confidence in the appellate procedures which are afforded to them under the laws of Guyana.
All the findings and pronouncements of the trial judge in the delivery of his judgment in relation to the conduct of Senior Counsel are rejected without reservation as they were not only without basis in law and fact but disclosed a rush to judgment against a person who was not a party to the proceedings and was never afforded any opportunity to be heard at any stage on the matters upon which the Trial Judge made pronouncements.
It is the hope of Senior Counsel that the appellate proceedings will be heard expeditiously as the creeping encroachment on the fundamental principle of natural justice and the right to be heard, guaranteed to all citizens appears to be under severe challenge.
C.A. Nigel Hughes
Hughes Fields & Stoby